E-mail connects troops and loved ones
For parents like the Yokems, a few days in between phone calls from their daughter Amber, who is stationed in the Middle East, can seem like a lifetime.
Despite Amber’s reassurances – telling her parents she’s embedded in a safe place – they still wait restlessly for her phone calls, and sending her letters and packages could take more than a month.
Parents like Chris Cooper are slightly more fortunate. Cooper’s daughter, Justyn, is stationed on the aircraft carrier Nimitz, where she has e-mail access and can let her father know she’s OK on a daily basis.
“If I had to be like some of these parents who go one-and-a-half months without communication, I couldn’t do it. I would be a basket case,” Cooper said.
E-mail has also been a facilitator for area families with loved ones on the USS Abraham Lincoln, another aircraft carrier in the Middle East. They created a group, where if one of them gets an e-mail from their son or daughter, the message will be passed on to the rest of the group, so they know everyone is OK.
Cooper’s daughter, an E2 in the US Navy has been stationed on the Nimitz for nearly four years and in the Middle East for almost one month. Although Cooper doesn’t know her exact location, he said her e-mails are taking longer to reach him, so he believes she crossed another time zone into the Indian Ocean.
Mail has not been reliable on the Nimitz, Cooper said. From her post on the aircraft carrier, Justyn sent a check to pay her car insurance bill, but the company never received it and sent her a cancellation notice.
“Every now and then they lose a (mail) bag off the side (of the ship),” Cooper said. The USS Nimitz is 18 stories from keel to the top of the mast, “so I can understand why they don’t chase it.”
Justyn is also taking college algebra courses from her office in the center of the ship, Cooper said. At the time of Cooper’s interview with the Sierra Sun, his daughter hadn’t been out on the deck in four days. She also hasn’t seen North Tahoe grad Michael Carillo, also on the Nimitz, since the carrier left San Diego. Cooper estimates there are 5,000 to 6,000 personnel on the ship.
Cooper expects that one day, soon, Justyn’s e-mails will become more regulated and decrease in frequency, to twice per week. One day, he said, he anticipates communication will cease altogether.
“There is downside to all of this,” Cooper said. “All of the sudden, [the e-mail] will stop. Then I’ll have no idea how she’s doing. The apprehension will start when the e-mails stop.”
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